How to speak to media

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How to speak to media

  1. 1. sp ea HO Wto k TO the me diawww.solargeneration.org
  2. 2. 1 HOW TO SPEAK TO THE MEDIA 1. BEFORE FIND A GOOD SPOKESPERSON For the sake of efficiency and consistency, nominate a spo- kesperson (and a stand-in, just in case), who will represent your group to the media. If you can use the same person for each event then so much the better, as they will gain expe- rience, be more at ease and will get known by local journalists. Your spokesperson must be able to express themselves clearly and not panic when faced with a camera or microphone. CHOOSE A MEDIA CO-ORDINATOR They will contact the media and keep all their contact details. They should build up a dossier of all local journalists. Prior to an event, they call journa- lists, explain what is happening and arrange appointments. t They target interested people and find the contact names at the abou toryvent isA s ur e most suitable type of media. This can be done by looking through o more your local paper to find stories about similar themes to yours –y h muc ly to beh a make a note of the section and the writer, and contact them. like ted wit Local press agencies also serve as a useful channel through which prin d photo to get your story in the local media. You can also share information goo with other organisations or charities in your local area to build up your list of contacts. If you are cold-calling a newspaper or local radio or TV station, just ask for the name of the most relevant person to your story: the news editor, environ- ment correspondent, picture editor for photos etc. (see Factsheet – Contacting journalists). Are there good quality photos available or is it a good photo opportunity for the press? Photographs can make all the difference, especially in local new-
  3. 3. spapers. A story about your event is much more likely to be printed with agood photo; even just a photo with a caption is a good way to get coverage.Get to know a local photographer with news experience, and build up a bankof good pictures. Good visuals are central to successful television coveragetoo, so think about a good picture or video opportunity if you’re targetingtelevision.CONSIDER CONTACTING: Ofte 1 Your local Greenpeace group who can give you a list of free n the are pape local contacts; mostthe rs 2 Student radio or newspapers; read widely 3 Journalism students, they often do freelance articles for the papers; 4 Other student associations, or former members of your group, who will probably be able to give you some contacts; 5 All kinds of media, from the smallest student rag, local paper or freesheet to the big publications; consider all the public channels (independent radio, local TV …).Remember, no outlet is too small. Often the free papers circulated in residen-tial areas are the most widely read and are the best channel for publicisingyour event.NB: The media co-ordinator must send out the Press Release (PrR) inadvance and make sure copies are available to journalists on the day of theevent (see Guide – Press releases).To sum up, this job manages relationships with the press and with otherstudent bodies. Consider informing your establishment’s public relations orgoverning body - journalists often like to know the chancellor orheadteacher’s opinion on your activity, and have an interview with them.The media co-ordinator should brief the spokesperson about the media thatare expected to be there on the big day so that they can preparethemselves.
  4. 4. PREPARE YOUR SPEECH ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS 1 How do I want to present myself and my group? 2 What message am I trying to get across? Why am I taking action? Why is this important? These messages must be simple, clear and understan- dable. Do this test: can you say it in 30 seconds? If not, it’s too complica- ted! It’s important to use clear simple phrases; these are the ones that will be picked up from interviews, press releases and articles. 3 Why do I want to communicate now? What is the background to our event? What is happening on campus at present? 4 What is it that I want? Who am I addressing my demands to? 5 What are the main reasons behind these demands? 6 What are the counter-arguments that could be thrown at me? The answers to these questions form the basis for the press release, which will be sent out in advance to promote your event. The press release explains your standpoint in detail to journalists. For spoken pieces (TV, radio) you need to be much more concise and snappy. Remember that most of the time journalists will only retain a few phrases from what you say. THE SPOKESPERSON SHOULD MAKE A CRIB-SHEET Prepare a crib sheet with an outline of your6 TOP TIP Try role play speech (the logical links), the major pieces of information that you must pass on, theAsk someone to interview you for a key words or figures that will catch themaximum of three minutes. Then, attention of the journalist and his readers.ask them to write down your dis-cussion for a third person, who This crib sheet will also help to stop youshould in turn tell you what they wandering off the subject and to keephave learned and understood. within the timeframe. If your speech is not clear or if you drown the journalist in ideas and figures, you risk distorting your message or losing sight of your major arguments.
  5. 5. Be and clear2. DURING str get the aight poi toDon’t forget that the journalist or potential audience know nothing about your nt!subject. Try to identify with those who are hearing about Solar Generation forthe first time: be clear and get straight to the point!Right, you’re off, the interview is underway!FOLLOW THE THREE CS PRINCIPLE: ConfidenceBe sure of yourself. You know your subject better than the journalist, who isthere to inform and be informed. ClarityBe clear, use short phrases that are precise and can be quotedas they are. Try to get straight to the point.Use conversational style - don’t read your speech!Avoid jargon at all costs, you’ll appear arrogant, itwon’t get your message across and youll lose youraudience’s attention.To gain their attention, you need to be as natural aspossible, speak slowly, pick three key messagesand illustrate what you say with examples and anec-dotes that will aid understanding. ControlNever be aggressive or on the defensive, remember that theinterview could be edited and your remarks taken out of context.What’s more, they could be broadcast on the radio so you are actually spea-king directly to the public and not just to the journalist.Take charge of the interview. Good preparation is indispensable. There is nosuch thing as a wrong question, only wrong answers! nd amic a e dynsiastic! BUSE A RICH AND VARIED VOCABULARY. FOR EXAMPLE, SAY: enthu « I am taking part in the campaign for Solar Generation because renewable energy sources, along with energy saving measures are the best solution to global warming », rather than: « I am taking part in the campaign for Solar Generation because it’s important. »However, remain true to yourself, use you own words and your own style.The media have come to interview students so they must hear students, notPR specialists!
  6. 6. Your composure must relate to your speech. Don’t smile whilst talking abouta serious subject or speak impassively about the action that youre going totake. Be dynamic, be enthusiastic!Try not to be too casual, try to appear serious and credible.Put yourself in the picture - wear a campaign t-shirt or some other distinctivesymbol of the campaign (for example, a badge). Direct the photographer orcameraman to a spot where he has an interesting background for his shot (acampaign poster, a banner etc), which illustrates your speech.Don’t be put off by difficult or trick questions. They are sometimes intendedto test your motivation and your belief in what you are doing. Even if you arefacing a journalist who is sceptical or has a different opinion from yours, donot get flustered!Prepare a few opening phrases that will give you time to think, such as “Asfar as we are concerned…”, “Whats interesting is...”Keep your head. Don’t hesitate to ask for a question to be repeated or to askfor clarification; gather your thoughts and take time before you reply.If it’s a topic you are not sufficiently familiar with then don’t say too much. It’sbetter to say nothing or to deflect the question. For example, question "Whatis Solar?" – answer "Our objective lies in…", rather than making up a roughanswer which will ruin your credibility.You are not supposed to know the ans-wer to everything!The important thing is to get YOUR message across, not to keep the journa-lists happy. For example, question "What do you think of the town’s policy interms of energy efficiency…?" and you don’t know much about it…- answer"Our university/school must be a leading example in terms of energy effi-ciency in order to influence the town’s policy, this is why our objective is toreduce by X the schools consumption between now and 2008…"It’s important to look the journalist in the eye. Often they will ask the samequestion twice, which allows you to reformulate your answer. It’s also achance to add anything you’ve forgotten - a figure, a message, a piece ofinformation - and to be clearer, and don’t hesitate to ask the journalist foranother chance to speak if you want to add something.
  7. 7. A FEW HINTS Z > In your speeches, start with the general topic (global warming, renewable energy) and move on to specifics (your demands, actual events on your campus); > Try to be positive in what you say: It is better to propose solutions than just to go on about the problem; > Repeat the question in your answer – unless it is negative! In fact, the question is often cut from the footage. Q: Why are students mobilising over the campaign for Solar Generation? A: Students are mobilising over the campaign for Solar Generation because… > Speak slowly; > And of course, take off your sunglasses and don’t chew gum!Stick precisely to the timing.From the second the press meeting is arranged, everything must be ready forthat exact time! The journalists who are attending will havelots of other things planned in their day and time-slots areoften very tight.Make sure that every journalist takes away a copy of thepress release, which summarises what you have said.Ask the interviewer if he can send you a copy of thearticle in which you appear!
  8. 8. 3. AFTERHow was it? Ask the spokesperson about the difficulties they encounteredduring the interviews and the questions they couldn’t answer. Evaluating theinterview will help to find suitable solutions and could come in useful nexttime.Consider compiling a press-book with clippings of all the articles about youraction. These may come in useful when you want to promote your project topotential contacts, the university administration or to other students. Studythe articles to evaluate if your speech went well, and try to understand: Didthe media practically use the press release in its entirety? Did they just usecertain quotations? Or did they bluntly ignore it?Always remember to ask the journalists for their business card - this allowsyou to build up a database and you can contact them again for future events.If your interview is not published or is relegated to the “school fête” section,don’t despair! Just because you are not the journalists’ darling does not meanthat your story is not newsworthy. The world of the media is in constant flux;it is difficult to make an impact. Journalists have a range of stories to juggle;stories often get overtaken by events and are dropped in an arbitrary and ran-dom fashion.Consequently, if your event or article is not picked up first time round, and ifit is still topical, be persistent and get in touch with the newspaper or broad-caster concerned. It is always useful to know why they did not run the storyand to try to find a new angle, a new slot, or another way to put your-selves across.
  9. 9. NOTES
  10. 10. TESTIMONY INTERVIEW WITH KHALED. « ‘For an interview there is style, and there is substance: For style: I always wear the Solar Generation t-shirt when I am interviewed. The journalists really like that. It’s better in terms of visibility and image. Besides, in that way I feel I’m getting into “Solar Generation character”! Of course I do prepare to a certain extent: I don’t come with my hair in a mess, sporting two weeks’ of stubble. Gestures are also important for the image and I try to be dynamic, particularly when it comes to expressing myself with my hands. For substance: The guide has been very helpful for preparing interviews on Solar Generation. Each time I practise out loud, imagining the questions that I am going to be asked and sometimes I ask somebody to do a mock interview. I always repeat the question in the answer; this is very important since it can make all the difference to your part in the discussion being taken up. After each interview I have a debriefing with someone from work, who tells me Greenpeace International Ottho Heldringstraat 5 1066 AZ Amsterdam Netherlands honestly when I have made mistakes to be avoided (like the tendency I have of saying “in fact” and the “hmn”, and “so hmn”, often inserted at the beginning of a sentence or where my arguments have lacked clarity…). I have been interviewed by a quite a few journalists and for different publications. The more one is expo- sed to the national media, the more complicated it gets. But each time the prepa- ration has been worthwhile. On the other hand, one can never fully anticipate a situation or the questions that are going to be asked. And in that case, the best thing is to improvise!Printed on 100% post consumer recycled chlorine-free paper Once, for example, I was interviewed by Mouloud (a humorous interviewer) on Canal + (at 7:30 in the morning) at the time of the climate change demonstration in November. Apart from the fact that I didn’t recognise him and I answered pho- ney questions too seriously, I will always remember the moment when he said “Well now, who is responsible for the unpredictable climate conditions of the Four Seasons pizza?” Just to show you that anything is possible with journalists! It happened on Canal + and quite a few people who watched it said that it www.solargeneration.org was brilliant! Personally, each time I have seen or heard myself being interviewed I have not felt I performed well. There are always glitches. But at the same time, if nobody else dares to do it and/or doesn’t really deal with the subject well, somebody should have a go and just try to do their best. The best formula is to have confidence in one’s vision and there is no reason why that shouldn’t work!’ »

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